Dark Skin is just a layer of melanin and not a Crime and Light Skin is Not a Prize.
Once there was a balloon seller who used to sell balloons of different colors with hydrogen gas (which is lighter than air) filled in them. Every day he would go to a park to sell balloons. The children playing there would buy his balloons as per their choice of colors and then go to the play area and release the strings in the garden to compete with each other. Soon the atmosphere around that place would be filled with ear-splitting looping sound effects emerging from noisy and laud shrieks of excited children. The competition would be whose balloon would go higher than the others and the children would be very happy with this.
One day while the balloon man was selling the balloons he felt someone was tapping on his elbow. He turned around to see who it was. He found out that the person tapping on his elbow was a 7 year old ‘Black’ girl. The balloon seller, surprised and curious, bent down to ask her which colour balloon she would like to have. However, instead of choosing a balloon the little girl, evidently inquisitive, asked him, “Uncle Can I ask you a question?”
The balloon seller amused by the innocence of her said calmly, “Yes my child. What happened? What do you want to ask?” She said, “Uncle, if the color of a balloon is BLACK then would it ever be able to compete with others or at least be able to fly?” Startled for a moment and then composed, the balloon seller smiled and replied, “Dear child, it’s not the color of the balloon that makes it fly, but the THING that is INSIDE it.”
I had read this story somewhere and honestly I was moved. I know every one of us must have been touched at the reply of The Balloon Seller. “It’s not the color of the balloon that makes it fly, but the THING that is INSIDE it.”How true!
However what we must ponder over is what made that little girl – who might have seen only few springs in her life – ask this question. That speaks volumes about how “skin color” of a person affects the core of him/her. Can we dare to deny that we aren’t instantly judgmental towards the skin color of a person? Don’t we define beauty of a person especially a woman, with The Color of the Skin getting an upper hand over the other attributes of beauty?
Even Martin Luther King Jr. once said that, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Undoubtedly these are the golden words scripted in the history but what more important is “What made him – one of the most eminent person in the world history, most visible spokesperson, activist and a distinguished leader in the civil rights movement in America – utter these words” because there lies the deep complexities of skin color that reigns the human psyche since the time immemorial and how this bias has affected humans – having a darker skin tone – socially, personally, culturally and psychologically all over the world. Isn’t it?
Discrimination based on skin color, also known as colorism or shadeism, is a form of prejudice or discrimination in which people are treated differently based on the social meanings attached to skin color. (Source – Wikipedia). Indeed, complexion is incredibly complex. For centuries, mankind has been obsessed with the color of the skin. This mania has resulted in an assortment of human traumas, crimes, heartbreaks and racism. Colorism is invasive within the Black community and that most Black people especially women have been, either culturally or personally, affected by intra-racial discrimination. It is a global sin and it won’t be wrong to say that every human – at some point of time – has been a part of this rot.
Women – in India as well as worldwide – are the worst victims of this Skin Color biases. Girls with a darker complexion face a lot of difficult things in terms of being abused, ignored and denied of opportunities apart from being thrown with most insensitive jabs. I personally remember in my growing days a neighboring uncle used to be very worried for his dark skinned daughter and would always say that he has to earn a lot of money to give a handsome dowry to marry her off as a compensation for her skin tone. Imagine the state of the mind of the Girl!
This is the reason why, over a period of time the options for a fairness cream in the market have just grown. The deep rooted fascination for fair skin has just made us get attracted to the illusive world of cosmetics and beauty products. And the owner of these products has been grown in terms of fat bank balances. They never change the natural skin tone but sure, they drift us from our own being.
Black kids face a whole universe of problems that their white counterparts don’t. Raising a ebony child means preparing him or her to bear the brunt of racism in all of its forms. It starts with to be looked at with frown faces to eventually parch with insensitive remarks, insensate isolation and delivered with injustice. As if “Having A deeper layer of melanin means a guaranteed ticket to be treated inhumanly, socially, personally and emotionally.” And a girl having ebony or dusky skin tone is even worse than having a deadliest nightmare.
Sometime I really wonder what is it that makes us so obsessed with skin color and is there any logical basis to people’s perceptions of skin color?
As Alan Goodman, Biological Anthropologist said: “All skin colors, whether light or dark, are not due to race but to adaptation for life under the sun.”
In fact, judging a person by their Skin Color defies logic. Dark skin is the original ancestral state of all humans. Some individuals were born with mutations giving them lighter skin and a combination of diet and sun exposure led to this trait continuing on in some individuals says the recent scientific studies. Therefore, it becomes clear that the belief that white skin is more superior does in fact defy logic. Lighter skin is merely a biological mutation – nothing more and nothing less as per a recent study published in the journal PLOS Genetics. In fact similar studies for the variation in human skin color have been published in many platforms like The Atlantis, The New York time’s etc state the same thing.
However, we can’t deny the bitter realities of skin color complexities and its peccadillo effects on human race having its monarchy since the dawn of the time.
As an Asian in general and an Indian in particular, I have a fair set of strange observations regarding the skin color complexities ruling us still today. Just a cursory glance at the Classifieds columns in any newspaper will show us our obsession with fair skin. And what it means to be a dark girl in a Country like India.
Even if in our ancient scriptures like Ramayana and Mahabharata the lead characters Sri Rama, Sri Krishna and Draupathi were all dark. Why even the author of Mahabharata Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa was also dark skinned. But still we can never see a matrimonial adv not mentioning the fair skin tone requirement for a bride. So it’s futile to ignore the reality and better to face it with a strong will. So let’s face it…if we at all want a change and bring in a solution to it this aged, deeply grained social evil.
We all know Mahatma Gandhi, during his stay at South Africa, once was thrown out of a first class bogey of a train by British for just being a black and Indian even if he had a first class ticket for it. That incident probably had acted like a spark to ignite His resolution to kick out the British raj from India. And he eventually became successful in by becoming the face for the Indian Struggle for freedom and independence.
Can’t we resolute to kick out complexion based discrimination from the human society, the same way?
Indian actress and activist Nandita Das has recently started a campaign named “Dark is Beautiful- Stay Unfair Stay beautiful.” Similarly, actress Kangana Ranaut, one of those reigning queens at the box office today hit headlines in recent past when she refused to endorse a fairness cream brand, despite being offered a whopping Rs 2 crore for the same.
She explained that she has several reasons to not endorse a fairness cream brand. She doesn’t like the way such ads are presented, and thinks that they do hurt the confidence of darker people, especially women. Her sister too is a little dark, so endorsing a fairness cream would mean insulting her own sister and the rest of the community who aren’t fair.
Recently I watched a Ayusman Khurana and bhumi Pednekar Starer movie Bala where Bhumi plays the role of a Dark skinned girl who faces rejections from the childhood but grows up to a confident women advocate. She accepts her skin tone and shows that its not the epidermis but the brain cells rules the life.
Kudos! To these people who are strongly asserting their voices against these deep rooted evil. However, it isn’t enough…I feel. It is time that not only the dark toned women come out in solidarity, but I would also like to see the naturally whiter ones promoting this skin shade to popularize it. I would like more and more celebrities, worldwide, should come together & stand in solidarity against biases against dark color, but it certainly needs a collective effort from all of us.
Fairness should not be on the skin but it has to be deep inside. “The cloth of a person is never a true measure of his wisdom and understanding.” ― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah. Society first looks at the dress that is on the body in appreciation and then the color and texture of the skin. It never looks beyond those two which is much more important which is within. One has to have a heart as white as milk and as pure as a crystal. Yes, there is a cosmetic for that which is LOVE, COMPASSION and AFFECTION…..Am I right????
For centuries, skin color has been used as a marker of race, but now new research is changing the way we see ourselves, and each other. Science is beginning to uncover the intricate relationship between our pigment and our environment. Perhaps one day, a greater level of education about these factors will help to eliminate the prejudice that has existed since the dawn of time and which still continues today.
Minds steeped in ignorance will find it difficult to embrace diversity. We have to change our “conditioned-concept” of beauty. Beauty lies within the soul and not in the skin. One has to find his own inner treasure. A good heart filled with the radiance of the soul is real beauty. Lack of awareness will make a person blind to the inner beauty, in self as well as in others. Compassion that comes with awareness has the power to cleanse prejudices and break barriers. Color of the skin of a person doesn’t make him more or less human. We are humans. And there are no dividing lines beyond the epidermis.
I dream of a day “when we can fit high definition cameras in our eyes, that can see beyond the skin of a person and find the beauty or ugliness in his/her heart. At present, we have filters and HD cameras in the mobile phones only. I wish we grow them up in our eyes too.
And yes, one day we can say that little girl that balloons are destined to fly in the air unless they are puncture with the stereotyped beliefs and taboos.
It’s Not the COLOR OF THE SKIN But It’s the Content in Character Makes Us Human. Indeed!!
This is My Post for The Alphabet D #AToZChallenge 2020 by @blogchatter in the Month of April 2020
Image Sources – Google,